In defense of Fidel Castro's internationalist stand on the Iraq war

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Mar 9 17:26:31 MST 2003

I have somewhat recast the last few paragraphs of the item I wrote on the
SWP's  policy which were really intended as a broader challenge to what I
consider ultraleft views on the fight against the Iraq war.

Now, in response to Fidel's reasoned arguments, claims are
been brought forward that we should be putting forward the perspective right
now of  "Two,
three, many" -- Iraqs? The Cubans' opposition to the invasions of Kuwait and
Iran (the latter having been backed and largely bankrolled by imperialism
from start to finish) is being portrayed as an indefensible concession to
imperialism.  These positions are wrong.  The Cuban position is
internationalist through and through -- the only consistently
internationalist stand that is being put forward by any government in this

The recast paragraphs follow.

The Militant, I wrote,   places an equal sign between the
U.S. desire to destroy, occupy and rule Iraq and the French imperialist
desire to preserve investments and influence there.  This position carries
the rejection of "lesser-evilism" much further than it can actually go in
the material world.

I hope the Militant will comment soon on Fidel Castro's statements on the
war.   In 1991 Fidel led the SWP, among others, in recognizing the
reactionary character of the invasion of Kuwait and how it had placed Iraq
in a position that offered the U.S. imperialists a priceless opportunity to
strike a blow to Iraq and impose onerous conditions.  This is an opening
that the U.S. rulers continue  to utilize.  Fidel's course against that war
was a
good guideline  then, as the SWP recognized at the time, and it is pretty
good this time, too.

[Explanatory note: At the time of  Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait,
the Militant supported the invasion.  I did also, from the moment I had
heard about it on the radio.  I  can't blame Jack Barnes for this.  My
response was all mine.  But in fact the invasion was completely reactionary
in all its consequences. The party changed its position partly in response
to the Cuban opposition, and to the fact that this opposition, unlike our
support for the invasion as progressive, passed the test of facts and

 I notice on the list that a certain idea has grown up that the attitude of
imperialism determines our stance on the right of small nations to self
determination -- hence we should oppose it for Kuwait, the Kurds, the people
of East Timor, the Albanians in Kosovo, the indigenous people of Tibet, and
maybe the Chechyns also (depending on how the imperialists jump in the next
period, after all the trouble the Russians are causing them over the war at
present). This was not Lenin's stance.   I think this is a formula for
disaster for the working-class and socialist movement.  I learned something
from Fidel Castro on the Kuwait question.  Fidel was starting from
proletarian and anti-imperialist internationalist principle. not from the
narrow interests of the Cuban state.]

One of the best things about Fidel Castro's comments is his, to me, implicit
understanding that this is not a repeat of Vietnam in any way, shape, or
form. The antiwar movement is actually closer to being a revolutionary
struggle against imperialism than anything taking place today in Iraq
today -- a nation is simply attempting from a position of desperate weakness
to defend its national existence as an independent state against
Washington's drive to decisively  destroy it. And of course the antiwar
movement is very much NOT a REVOLUTIONARY mass struggle against imperialism.
And the leadership of the Iraqi people bears little resemblance to the
national-revolutionary leadership of
the Vietnamese struggle.

These realities help to shape the defensive character of this antiwar
struggle and the overall battle to save Iraq which cannot, at the present
time and around this issue, move onto the offensive against imperialism
(although I think better days are being prepared).  In my opinion, the
weight of pacifist sentiments and demands (including why the movement does
not denounce the inspections -- although the broad coalitions do not
officially support
them).  It is also the reason why just about EVERYBODY in this movement and,
the world sighs with relief when the Iraqis decide to destroy missiles
rather than simply defying the United States and the United Nations Security
Council -- and why U.S. officials gnash their teeth when this happens.
These are the facts of the class struggle despite the discriminatory
character of the demands on Iraq.  It is the reason why, in the given
situation, people all over the world are cheered
when Washington's drive for quick military action runs into
heavy sledding in the Security Council, rather than aiming fire at the
governments in the opposition  for their imperialist or other
selfish objectives.

The enormous weight of pacifist sentiments and slogans  in the antiwar
movement today reflects not only the pre-war character of the movement, but
the defensive posture the people of Iraq and the world are  in -- and cannot
escape today.  Stopping this war -- if we and other fighters around the
world can do it --and preventing the U.S. imperialists from attaining their
goals will open the road to the eventual full reconquest of
Iraq's national sovereignty, and will be the greatest victory that the
Palestinian struggle could win at the present time.

That's why the demands
for No War, No Bombing, No Sanctions are the heart of the fight today, not
Iraq's right to armaments of the government's choice.
Fred Feldman

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